Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘planning

My Turn

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Today it is my turn to join the club of 60-year-olds. Sixty years ago today I showed up as the latest addition to the Hays clan. Luckily, we tend toward not remembering our moment of arrival, but I bet I was kicking and screaming until that warm blanket swaddled me tightly. By my calculations, I have just completed a third stint of becoming a twenty-year-old.

I’m pretty confident that I am twenty years smarter than I was when I reached forty.

I will always remember the spectacular celebration of my fortieth birthday, because my life-long chum, Paul Keiski, and I combined our adjacent birthdays with a plan to thwart our wives trying to hold a surprise party for us. We announced a plot to do a nighttime 40-mile bike ride figuring nobody would be crazy enough to participate.

Turned out there were a lot more crazy people than we accounted for, so a fabulous group night-ride became an annual necessity for years after. That night when Paul’s birthday ended and mine started, we decided we had each ridden 20 moonlit miles by that point, so together, forty had been achieved.

Now, twenty years later, we gave in and let our wives plan a celebration event. I fear it may dwarf either of our weddings in terms of their efforts to prepare food, beverages, and entertainment for a wedding-sized guest list.

Once again, Paul came up with the perfect antidote for too much party. This time we are going to do all the miles.

Turns out, the distance between Paul’s house and Wintervale Ranch, location of the joint-birthday gala, is sixty miles. He suggested we ride our bikes to the party.

Count me in!

Pedaling from the biggest city in Minnesota to our country sanctuary is symbolic in more ways than just the mileage for me. Joining Paul for the journey is icing on the cake.

It is a precious treat to be sharing the process of aging with a pal to whom you’ve been connected since grade school.

Happy Birthday to Paul (yesterday) and me (today)!

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Driving North

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It has arrived! Today is the day of departure for this year’s Tour of Minnesota biking and camping adventure. I might almost be ready to go by the time I plan to leave the house. Really, the only thing left to do is overlook something I had intended to bring and leave without it.

Just to add a little drama to my packing and planning, the temperatures up north dropped into the 30s Wednesday night. Do I pack another layer of warm clothes? I added one extra overshirt. In addition to my wool hat, chopper mittens, Sorel boots, and North Face parka.

I’m ready.

I mowed the lawn last night, cutting a notch lower than usual in hope of buying me the full week until it needs to be cut it again. I programmed my work email with an away message. Can’t think of anything else.

I tried to tell Pequenita that I would be gone for a while, but would return. I doubt she comprehends my warning. Poor Cyndie will be a victim of that cat’s angst over my absence. On the other hand, I will relish the absence of wet-nosed cat head-bumps bashing into my face at too-early-o’clock in the morning.

As the sun was getting low enough that the back pasture of chest-high grass was cast in shadow, I came around the bend on the mower and spotted a deer leaping in reaction to my sudden appearance. Behind those big leaps was an almost invisible fawn whose head didn’t clear the tall grass as it struggled to keep up with mamma.

I sure hope they don’t decide to bed down in that field when our neighbors show up to cut hay.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Getting Close

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Departure is just two days away for the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week. I spent much of my time last night pretending to pack. It’s kind of a dry run, where I pull out clothes and biking gear I think might be smart to have. Then I labor over deciding whether I’m taking too much or leaving out something vital. I am not inclined toward finding a laundromat on our day off from riding.

Will it be a rainy, wet week? Cold? We are going north. Hot? That happens up there, too. Hard to know for sure, so I’d like to be prepared to be comfortable between the hours on the saddle. At the same time, I really don’t want to be hauling around extra clothing that I don’t end up using.

I’ve taken enough flak over the years for having a heavy duffle bag that I’ve become determined to travel lighter. The best way I can think of to accomplish that is by not bringing clothing I don’t need. The rest of the gear in my bag is a given. The tent. Sleeping bag and pad. It should be a cinch to stay well under 50 lbs, especially with the new lighter sleeping bag my kids bought me for an early Father’s Day/Birthday gift.

My bag weighed in the upper 40s the years I was being chastised most by the gear haulers. I would like to find the magic weight that will feel noticeably different, but I have no idea what that is.

I suppose I could leave out the large bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms that I claimed out of the treat drawer in the kitchen, but this week of extra exercise is one time when I allow myself to splurge a little on my strict daily limit of sugar intake. Jettisoning treats might be taking this weight concern one step too far.

I’m really looking forward to sleeping in the great outdoors again. In honor of the early morning experience of waking up in the tent, I’ve retrieved a Words on Images from three years ago called, Daybreak:

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Weather Fatigue

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I succeeded in getting all our grass and innumerable dandelions mowed Sunday. I have one peeve about mowing this time of year, when the lovely yellow flowering weed is at its peak and starting to go to seed.

Do you see it? All that grass so freshly cut and one 10-inch dandelion stem sticking out like a sore thumb. There were others, but that one just stood out so defiantly, I couldn’t help but stop and take a picture. Then I snapped it off by hand.

Mowing dandelions can be a frustrating endeavor for a perfectionist.

Like the meteorologists predicted, Memorial Day was a total washout. It reminds me of two years ago this month when I had tried to host a day of cycling with friends in preparation for the Tour of Minnesota.

I captured this memory from that day:

I have gotten smarter about trying to make outdoor plans that prefer sunny, warm weather. I simply don’t make them. Yesterday, we responded precisely as a cold, rainy day deserves, snuggling back in bed for some extra reading and napping.

Pequenita was all in with that plan.

She doesn’t have a problem with this weather. Personally, I am getting worn down by this chilly rain pattern we have endured so far this spring. Sure, I wouldn’t mind if I could curl up and nap all day, but the landscape doesn’t stop growing just because it’s not sunny and warm outside.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and this trend will peter out by the time the bike trip kicks off in the middle of June.

It would help my frame of mind greatly if that were to happen because we are headed far enough north for this year’s route that cold and rainy could translate into a little sleety/snowy, if you know what I mean.

That would definitely exacerbate my current case of weather fatigue.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

April Showers

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Yeah. These are April showers alright.

This storm arrived a little sooner than expected and produced a robust initial burst of snow, which chased me out of work early, in attempt to get well ahead of the inevitable afternoon weather-induced traffic disasters.

For the most part, I succeeded, needing only to slow down for a handful of congested sections, but not any backups that came to a complete stop.

My big day in court for jury duty today was foiled because the case settled at the last minute. That was good, and bad for me. Now I can get in another day of work, except it will need to be from home because the big storm is making the commute inadvisable.

At least I don’t need to try to navigate the scary drive to the courthouse in Ellsworth, either. My jury duty runs until April 30, unless I sit on a case, so a different trial remains an unknown possibility for a couple more weeks.

The short distance to the county courthouse was a drive I was willing to risk, if they hadn’t settled in advance, but the storm also created a threat of postponement that would have complicated my schedule, too.

The possibilities are almost too much for my little brain to comprehend all at once.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of May. It can’t possibly snow in May this year, can it?

And all these April showers will lead to blossoms of May flowers, no?

A guy can dream.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Not Easy

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It’s not easy to write about moving our horses… There are a lot of emotions built up regarding the next change in store. After weeks of consideration, Cyndie and I recently decided we need to find another home for Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter.

Last week, we learned that the previous owners of the herd are willing to accept the horses back, and we have now begun the process of detailing the specifics involved. Although an actual date of transfer is yet to be determined, just verbalizing the idea, and now having the outcome decided, has already triggered powerful emotions for both of us.

The horses are such an integral part of our lives that we struggle to imagine what it will be like after they are gone. We are each looking forward to regaining a little of our independence again, but it remains to be seen whether we will stay on this property for long without them.

I’ve been mentally revisiting the day the horses arrived here back in September of 2013. That was a pinnacle of thrills that barely compares with any other in my life, except maybe the day Cyndie and I got married. The ensuing years have included more incredible experiences than I can count, having gone from zero experience owning horses, to developing intimate knowledge of our herd.

They have definitely provided me with plenty of things to write about over the years.

Yesterday, while I was tending to the cleanup detail near their evening feeding time, Dezirea suddenly laid down and rolled around in her blanket. By the time I got around to thinking it would have been a good photo, she was already back on her feet.

Then Hunter walked over to the same spot and started pawing the ground. I knew he was going to lay down as well, so this time I scrambled to dig out my pocket camera. In my haste to capture him while he was upside down, I accidentally pushed the power button to turn the camera off again.

By the time I got it back on, he was upright.

It is going to be incredibly difficult to adjust to no longer having them live with us.

Horses have a powerful energy, and I don’t think we will ever be able to replace it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Thinking Seriously

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We are currently doing some serious thinking about making significant changes, not just around here, but in our lives. It is an exercise in re-examining everything, because one thing leads to another, due to the connectedness of all things.

We may not change everything all at once, but just like the series of changes we enacted to bring ourselves to where we are today, a shift in focus, and the first step we take, will likely kick off a metamorphosis toward a new chapter of which we have yet to comprehend.

In the middle of it all, horses. Our precious horses.

It is unconscionable that we would even think of turning our attention away from them. But, in our situation, they just might be the first to go.

This is a really hard thing to contemplate.

Those who doubted our sanity when we set off on this adventure of moving from our home in the suburbs, where family, life-long friends, and gainful employment were close at hand, to a rural location with uncertain dreams of using horses to help others, will now be able to have their opinions validated.

That’s not supposed to matter to the dreamers of the world, but the thought still occurs.

I am able to use the priceless experiences I have had over the last seven years as contented justification for our adventures thus far. Would there have ever been a “completion” for what we set out to accomplish? I’m not entirely sure, although I had visions of possibilities that it appears will go unrealized.

Is there ever really a completion of our endeavors, or is it all an ongoing process?

If we no longer have horses here, it will certainly feel like a completion, but it could just as well be perceived as a new beginning.

It’s complicated.

As such, we are giving it all some serious thinking. Indoors. By the fire. While it snows and snows and snows outside.

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